TOP 5 FOODS TO TRY
- Fermented Shark
You most likely won’t find locals recommending this dish, but it’s emblematic of Icelandic cuisine. Shark is fermented with vinegar and other natural ingredients. They serve it in little cubes (like cheese) with a toothpick. You may have to plug your nose to eat it, but did you even travel to Iceland if you don’t try it?
Skyr is a thick and creamy dairy product that’s best described as a marriage between yogurt and cottage cheese. It is made from pasteurized skim milk and a bacteria culture similar to yogurt. It’s often served with a berry jam.
- Reykjavik’s Hot Dog (or pylsur)
Reykjavik’s Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has been in business for over 60 years and has served prominent figures and celebrities like Bill Clinton and the Kardashians. If you order it with everything, it includes crunchy deep-fried onions, raw onions, sweet brown mustard and a creamy remoulade.
Whether it’s stewed, boiled, fried, roasted or grilled, fish has been a mainstay in Icelandic cuisine for as long as locals can remember. Fishing is the largest export in the country, but that doesn’t mean locals aren’t devouring it as well. Cod, salmon and haddock are the most common, along with langoustines. Fish even makes an appearance in salty snacks like fish jerky.
- Rye bread (and butter)
Icelandic rye bread is another staple for Icelandic cuisine. There are so many ways to eat it: topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese, chopped and blended in ice cream, served with extra creamy butter and crunchy lava salt are a few examples. However, there’s really only one way to make it right. It should be buried 30 centimeters in the ground next to a bubbling geyser. It takes about a day to cook in a pot underground, but the end result brings thousands of visitors (and locals) to bakeries every year.
TOP 5 PLACES TO VISIT
- Gullfoss Waterfall: It’s famed as one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world, and cascades over a series of rocks and terraces before plunging over the 32-meter high crevice that gives the fall its distinct appearance of disappearing into the Icelandic subterrane.
- Reykjavik: The northernmost capital city on the planet! Its charming downtown of colorful painted timber homes is watched over by the needle-like spike of the Hallgrimskirkja –an icon of the Icelandic city.
- Akureyri: Despite its population of 18,000 people, this fishing port and seaside gem of a city is packed with interesting independent cafes and teahouse and countless boutiques and craft stores.
- Hofn: Hofn is a prime example of a southern Icelandic fishing town. This is one of the top places to see the Northern Lights.
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: This is a place you truly don’t want to miss while in Iceland. The glaciers are constantly moving, making no two visits the same. Across from the lagoon is Diamond Beach where you can touch stunning blue ice formations that are majestically lying on black sand.
TOP 5 ACTIVITIES TO DO
- Swim in a geothermal spa
- See the northern lights
- See puffins on puffin island
- Travel the Golden Circle
- Descend into the Leidarendi Lava Caves
TOP 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ICELAND
- More than 60% of the Icelandic population live in the capital city, Reykjavik.
- You can swim outdoors in hot springs all year round.
- Iceland has the longest workweeks in Europe (45 hrs a week!).
- About 11% of Iceland is covered by glaciers.
- The Icelandic horse is the only horse breed in Iceland.
TOP 5 PHRASES TO KNOW
- Good Day — Góðan daginn — Pronounced: go-thah-n die-in
- Thank You —Takk – Pronounced: tah-k
- Goodbye — Bless — Pronounced: bleh-s
- Excuse Me — Afsakið – Pronounced: af-sah-kith
- Where Is — Hvar er – Pronounced: kva- e